Thursday, June 26, 2008

Women and Blogging....

This has been posted several places on the web, from Crooked Timber. There seems to be an apparent gender difference between the numbers of men and women who are blogging.

Money quotes: "The post reports on a study in which we found that male college students are more likely than their female counterparts to share creative content online even though both men and women in the sample are equally likely to create such content. However, when controlling for online skill, the gender differences in posting go away.

". . .the paper “The Participation Divide: Content Creation and Sharing in the Digital Age” this Spring in the journal Information, Communication and Society. We examine the extent to which college students share creative content online and whether we can identify any systematic differences by user background. In particular, we looked at whether students create and share the following types of material: poetry/fiction, artistic photography, music, and video (both completely own and remixed in the case of the latter two), including both private and public sharing."

My response--give me an effing break, cut it the eff out. The last sentence of the first quoted paragraph, here italicized: However, when controlling for online skill, the gender differences in posting go away.

How does one measure online skill and gender differences, that's the scientific paper(s) I want scattered all over the web. And the set of students measured is college students? The babies of the computer age who have never lived without a computer, who have never lived without a remote control or automated answering systems on their telephones would have measurable gender differences in usage? This just does not compute at all. What's that line about equally likely to create but less likely to share? Ooooh ick.

Monday, June 23, 2008

On Jeff Koons More

These are Charlotte Segal's impressons of the Jeff Koons show we saw a couple of weeks ago at the MCA in Chicago. . ."Yes, our visit to Koons show didn't produce anything newer than taking toys to monumental scale. I did like the Egg very much too, but it made me guestion why we strive to be original unto our own images and then find no one cares a hoot unless it is funky and doesn't require questioning as to the artist's ability to communicate. Koons just relied on the success of those artists he most admired and regurgitated those already done surfaces and shapes. He gets away with it while you and I would be chastised by the likes of Alan Artner, for example."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ongoing Dialogue with Joyce Owens...

Joyce Owens is a superior artist and blogger. We have been having an on-going dialogue about various issues. Joyce's uppermost concerns have to do with cultural identity issues as an African-American artist, as a woman artist. I have been mulling these things over in my head, and have yet to put anything out dealing directly with her important questions. However, once in a while I respond,

This is what I said in response to Joyce's post, Check Out The Really Rich Artists, in which she referred to Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Lucien Freud:

"At some level we are not making art for our contemporaries or the contemporary market. We are hoping to extend ourselves into the future, to defy our mortality. Think of how we feel when we look at images from Lascaux. In some sense we make our objects and are casting them into the wake of the ship of our lives. To make my point succinct, our successors may or may not appreciate Damien Hirst's diamond embedded skull as anything other than a curiosity of our own narcissism, or his. Who will remember Chris Burden's reception of a 22 bullet? Who will want to? There's a historical process that filters. We're hoping to pass through that filter. And always, we artists are engaged in active dialogues with each other and the culture we swim through."

Friday, June 6, 2008

On Not Necessarily Naming

I know that's a weird title for a post, but here's where I'm coming from. So much art criticism and reviewing and thinking about art has to do with button-holing, creating a presumed category, then attaching a label. Such that in the previous post on the work of Jeff Koons, I totally and deliberately avoided the terms Dada, Neo-Dada, New Realism, Pop Art, Assemblage, but allowed 'ready-made' because I think that term is quite descriptive.

I am mindful of this quote from Donald Judd from 1964, "the history of art and art's condition at any time are pretty messy. They should stay that way. One can think about them as much as one likes, but they won't become neater; neatness isn't even a good reason for thinking about them." Page 92, Kirk T. Varnedoe, Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock, 2006, Princeton University Press.

To further elaborate on the ideas of Varnedoe, the objects Koons make exist in an interstice, in a space between object and illusion. There's a nihilism in which he is attempting to destroy the existence of that original cracked egg by expanding it way, way above its original size and grossly flipping the fragility of the original shell to the strength of the aluminum. I am sure that his intent in the Cracked Egg is confrontational. My concern is that we have been confronted in this manner so often, that our own heads are battered with the knowledge and it has become meaningless.

Some Thoughts on Art of Jeff Koons

My buddy Charlotte Segal and I went last Tuesday, free night, to the MCA in Chicago, to see the Jeff Koons exhibit. I have mixed thoughts about what I saw, and what I have seen of his work over the years, and have yet to come to a conclusion about whether or not I like his work, whether or not in my own estimation I think he's a valued artist. I recognize his debt to Ed Paschke, who was also one of Charlotte's teachers.

My basic quibble, if one could call it that, is that Koons owes a considerable debt to Andy Warhol, whose work borders and explores the boundaries of kitsch and cartooning and exploration of the depiction of the banal in our everyday images. Then Koons comes along and makes cartoons of the kitsch and the cartooning. It doesn't work for me, this making of a cartoon of a cartoon.

Where Koons' work is strongest to me are the works with extreme changes in scale and materials. For instance, we saw a piece, the giant cracked egg "Cracked Egg (Magenta)" which was about 8 foot tall, and looked like old fashioned colored aluminum, or the balloonish snoopy thing "Balloon Dog (Orange)". The cracked egg dealt with the juxtaposition of the notion that it is a broken thing rendered in highly polished and strong aluminum, an exposition of strength. The balloon dog similarly juxtaposed the notion of the fragility of the easily popped membrane with the polished strength of metal wrought way, way oversized.

And then there were the Toaster pieces, the plain toasters mounted over flourescent tubes, but these struck me as old territory heavily visited, initially by Duchamp's Urinoir. Duchamp produced the Urinoir in 1917, added just a few ready-mades over the next few years and then essentially retired as an artist because he had made his point. Koons is making the same points about the ordinariness of the everyday over and over again and again. Maybe I just get tired of the feeling that the point of "here, look at how banal ready-mades are" gets made over and over again.

As for the notion that works by an artist of Koons' apparent stature should possess unique import never before seen, I don't necessarily see it in his art-work, but he has crossed and defined frontiers on the legal front, losing the suit in the String of Puppies case, but winning forNiagara. I salute this because I believe that all visual artists stand on each other's shoulders, and that all artists' images, belong out there in the free-for-all world.

In a world replete with so much art, so many images, advertising and ideas, it is difficult to see how artists can avoid bumping into each other. We should stop worrying about this, and look forward to the process of playing with our ideas without fear, even if they cannot be totally unique.